Like Krotz, I perceive mediatization as something that society has been moving towards and even unconsciously striving for since the very beginning. As technology advances we seem to always find a way to use it as a means for acquiring more knowledge to help us shape our perceived reality. Before we had a medium other than face-to-face communication people were only concerned with feeding themselves, finding a safe place to sleep, and procreation, and storytelling was the only way that people developed any sense of what life was like outside of the cave. So it was only through each other that we learned about our similarities and differences as a species. Mediatization is tied to our insatiable curiosity about the world we live in, and ever since we started inventing we’ve been trying to create more and more efficient ways of finding out what exists beyond what we can see and comprehend in our immediate environment.
I like Hernes’ phrase “media-twisted society.” Once there was just person-to-person socializing. Then we got a hold of written language and suddenly there was a means to go further for knowledge as well as a means to control one another. Thus, society became forever changed by these new forms of communication and knowledge dissemination. Which brings us to today, where we exist in a world “of information abundance which has rendered attention a strategic resource.” We’ve recently even figured out a way to mediatize our personal lives by putting our every thought and movement online via Facebook and Twitter. For some, it seems that using media to inform their reality is not enough. Instead, they want to inject themselves into the mediasphere so that reality will perceive them as well. This is how we’ve arrived at a state where competing realities are showing us all how little we actually know and creating conflict between those who want to find a “truth” and those that want only to confirm that they’ve been right all along.
Now we’ve developed such advanced means for creating our realities that we’re in a time of flux where the old power structure is breaking down and everyone has the power to seek information from almost anywhere without being constrained by which messages the elites want us to use. As Picard points out, no longer are content production companies the top dogs. Instead, it is the companies that give us access to the abundant forms of electronic media like Apple, Microsoft, or Verizon that are in the lead, and we the consumers are able to look for ourselves and even shout our own messages out to others. However, the majority of us do not employ this power to become informed, activated societal agents. Most of us would rather use it to entertain away our problems and the problems plaguing society.
We’ve vastly improved our capabilities “for gathering and disseminating news and information [as well as] facilitating public discussion” (Picard, pg. 378), but it seems to me that, in America especially, there is an ever growing apathy for democratic participation or unification around social causes. How is it that in an environment with access to infinite amounts of information about almost anything from almost anywhere, we, in America at least, have become so self-centered? I think that mediatization has overwhelmed us to such a degree that we just don’t have the attention to spare for the things that have the potential to upset us. Additionally, I see so many young people communicating primarily via text and other technologically mediated ways that it makes me wonder if they are missing out on learning how to effectively communicate person to person. This could significantly change the face of societies around the world and not for the better.
DQ: Do you see mediatization as a problem for future generations? Is it possible that communication will become so mediated that people will lose the ability to communicate effectively face-to-face?